Army, PTSD, Peacekeeping
Jim McLean's service dog, Elvis.
Jim McLean with Ron MacLean
I have 14 years of military experience; I was in food service support unit. I joined in 1986 my first posting at CFB Calgary Alberta; I was with the Lord Strathcona horse armour corp unit. I was sent to a peacekeeping tour in Cyprus in 1988 for a 6-month tour. Then in 1990 I was posted to CFB Halifax where I was working on the base; in 1991 I was sent another 6- month peacekeeping tour at the Golan Heights which is north of Israel and at the border of Syria. Then in 1993 I was posted to CFB Petawawa where I was attached posted to 2Field Ambulance unit. I spent 3 months in Winnipeg to help with the flood, and in 1996 I was sent to Bosnia which is now called the former Yugoslavia. This was a NATO 6-month tour to reconcile the war. While I was there I got injured and in 1999 had surgery which made my physical ability worse. So, I was medically released in December 2000.
After my release I had several tests done and they found out that I was also suffering with post traumatic stress disorder as well as major depression, anxiety and severe panic attacks. For these mental illnesses, I would receive Elvis, my service dog.
The job of PTSD service dogs is to be a constant companion, provide important reality affirmation to alleviate flashbacks, nightmares and blank stares. Dogs pick up on negative emotions of detachment and depression. They also relieve hyper vigilance, as well supress anxiety by nudging and distracting me to relieve escalating anxiety that can lead to panic attacks.
Service Dogs also helps you rebuild relationships with family and communities. Elvis allowed me to watch a Buffalo Bills game as well a Blue Jays game. We also travelled to New York City and Miami Florida. Without Elvis none of this would have been possible.
Elvis has since retired, and I have a new service dog named Lucky.